Review: Le Cercle Rouge

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Le Cercle Rouge translates to The Red Circle in English.  The reason I wanted to watch this was a little tidbit of trivia from the film John Wick.  When I was looking at the background of that film, the night club in one of the scenes has a red circle neon sign and the club is called the Red Circle.  Someone said this was in homage to this film.  That was enough for me to watch and review this movie.   Here is my review of John Wick:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/06/review-john-wick/

Jean-Pierre Melville wrote and directed this film and was his next to last film before his untimely death of a heart attack at age 55.  Melville wrote and directed many classic neo noir films from France and made some masterpieces, this being one.  Melville is an important influence on today’s neo noir and crime directors.  Influencing a who’s who of today’s talent.  John Woo, Quentin Tarantino, Michael Mann, Volker Schlöndorff, Johnnie To,  Martin Scorsese and fellow countrymen Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut all said Melville was a big influence on their work.  Needless to say we will be looking at more of Melville’s movies on this site as well as those he influenced.  Melville had the idea for this film in 1950 but shelved it until 1970 because of the similarities to the Asphalt Jungle that came out that year.  He held on to the idea 20 years, until he started working on this project in 1970.  Here is my review of the Asphalt Jungle:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/08/review-the-asphalt-jungle/

Alain Delon plays our main protagonist and appears in a number of Melville movies.  Delon/Melville seem to be the French version of the USA’s De Niro/Scorsese.  Bourvil plays the police detective set on the case.  Gian Maria Volonté plays a recently escaped convict on the run and teams up with our hero for a big score.  Yves Montand plays a retired cop with chemical dependency issues and knows both our lead detective and our escaped convict.  He teams up with our thieves for the big score.

One of the things this film is famous for is the 25 minute heist scene.  There are no words spoken and had to be influenced by Riffi from 1955.  I will re-watch Riffi and review it later for this site.

Our story starts with our protagonist in jail and is visited by a money man that lets him know he will be getting out tomorrow, on one condition.  A job, one that is made for him and one that he will get away clean, as long as he doesn’t screw up!  Famous last words, right?  We also have our convict handcuffed on a train in the company of our lead detective, he escapes and is on the run.  Our two outlaws meet in a very unusual way and our adventure begins.

I already mentioned how John Wick gave a nod to this film, and I think there are many more.  I can’t help noticing this has many similarities in plot points to Heat, reviewed here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/03/12/re-watching-the-classics-heat/

And the scene in the forest reminded me of a similar scene in Miller’s Crossing, reviewed here:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/02/15/re-watching-the-classics-a-fresh-look-at-millers-crossing/

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I also seen small similarities in Ocean’s Eleven.  What other movies do you think used this for inspiration?  Let me know in the comments below.

There has been a remake in the work for years, with Orlando Bloom and Liam Neeson rumored to be attached. From some reports this may be dead now.  A remake could be brilliant or it could be a big disaster.  How do you remake a classic of this caliber?  Worst case scenario is a remake will bring attention to the original.  This is a must see for neo-noir fans, and foreign movie fans alike.  It is a little long and the pacing deliberate, but is well worth your time.

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2 thoughts on “Review: Le Cercle Rouge

  1. Okay I have this film on DVD. I loved it this is the second time that I am watching it. Still love it . I hope they are not going to make the remake they should rewrite the film. Like City on fire became Reservoir dogs. Like that that would be better. If they can pul it off. Like you said It could be great or flop. Nice review one of my favorite director is Melville. Nice review.

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